Thursday, 7 June 2012

Kachumber (Indian Cucumber Salad)

This is a recipe for an Indian cucumber salad. It's a great summer salad because the cucumber gives it a really refreshing quality. This is my mother in-law's recipe with a few modifications of my own, which I am making optional. The ingredients are very straightforward:

2 cucumbers, peeled
2 roma tomatoes
1 T vinegar
1/2 T sugar
1/2 t salt (or to taste)
Ground roasted peanuts (to garnish--about 1/3rd of a cup)
1/2 t cumin (optional)
1/2 t red pepper (optional)
1/2 t amchur powder (optional)

The trick to making good kachumber is in the slicing of the cucumbers. The first time I tried to make it, I sliced the cucumber and then diced it. Sarita, one of the ladies who works in my mother in-law's house, looked at me pityingly. I think my mother in-law may have outright laughed at me. They showed me how to score the cucumber first and then slice it. This makes much smaller pieces (which, according to my husband, is the key to a good kachumber) and the chopping goes much more quickly.

Once you have the cucumbers sliced, put them in a bowl and slice the tomatoes. I find this works best if I slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise, cut thin, julienne strips, and then dice them. The trick is to make sure the tomato pieces are about the same size as the cucumber pieces.
Then I put the tomatoes in the bowl with the cucumbers and toss them together. Once you've done that, you're ready to add the spices. My mother in-law uses only vinegar, salt and sugar in her kachumber, but I like to add cumin, red pepper and amchur powder. You could add some or all of those spices. Add all the dry ingredients you're using before adding the vinegar.

Once you have added in the the salt, sugar and dry spices (if you are using them), sprinkle the vinegar on and give everything a good toss. To keep the peanuts from getting soggy I add them as a garnish right before I serve the kachumber. 

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